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February 16: Senate Threats

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Tempers flared during the 1933 legislative session in Bismarck, when the leader of a ballot measure to repeal alcohol prohibition in the state sparred with state lawmakers.

The session overall was unusual, being that the Capitol had burned down in 1930, and a new Capitol wouldn’t be completed until 1934. In 1933, the state Senate met in the World War Memorial Building in Bismarck. The House met in the city auditorium.

C.P. Stone of Mandan was a hotel proprietor and leader of the successful ballot measure in 1932 to repeal the prohibition clause from North Dakota’s constitution. In February of 1933, he announced that supporters of the measure would circulate petitions to recall state lawmakers who subsequently opposed legislation repealing prohibition.

His recall threat riled state Senator Oscar Erickson of Kidder County, who put forth a resolution condemning Stone. The Senate printed the resolution in the Senate journal on this date in 1933, condemning Stone’s statement as “un-American, unpatriotic and wholly improper.” Erickson’s resolution also made clear that “this Resolution is to maintain the integrity of our lawmaking bodies and to afford protection to the members thereof from the threats of an unscrupulous, unjust and unfair lobbyist representing an interest who lack the true conception of our American form of government.”

The resolution also deprived Stone of entering the Senate floor and balcony, and mandated the sergeant-at-arms to “forthwith expel him therefrom” should he enter. But five years later, Stone would become state tax commissioner – though the appointment lasted only one week at the end of Governor Bill Langer’s last term.

Erickson went on to become state insurance commissioner, but the state House of Representative impeached him in 1945 for corruption and malfeasance. The Senate later acquitted him. Erikson died in office shortly afterward. And Stone died in 1946.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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